Thursday, 28 March 2013

Ashtanga while sick?

After my whirlwind of activity on Tuesday, I woke up on Wednesday with a niggle in my throat.

Doing my morning practice was out of the question because I had slept in. By the time I was out of bed, showered, and breakfasted, I had to catch my train to work.

I got through my day decently well, but by the time I got home, my niggle turned into a full-out sore throat.

I woke up today and felt worse.

My head aches every time I turn my eyes, my voice breaks and cracks like a squeaky old car, and my hips, thighs, and calves HURT.

Despite all this, I got up early and attempted a practice. Now why in hell and high water would a sick person put herself through Ashtanga when it already hurts to move her eyes?

Because she read this:

So I got through 3 Sun Salutation As, crawled back in bed, and continued to feel generally horrible. Sure, a practice raised the blood, stretched my hamstrings, but it did not make me feel any better or worse. I am still sick, and Ashtanga ain't going to change that.

What did make me feel better? Cake.

I'm not even kidding you, it made me feel alive again.

So, to justify all the crazy in my life lately, I learned that yesterday was a Full Moon Day, and there is a bunch of other shit going on today as well. From Tim Miller;

The Sun and Venus together give us a desire to express ourselves through creativity and relationships. We want to be noticed and put ourselves out there in warm and friendly ways to attract the attention of others. Everyone gets a little more charming under this influence, but we may be susceptible to over indulgence and believing that we are the most fascinating beings on the planet, when others are thinking that we are incredibly vain and foolish. When Uranus joins the party, all hell breaks loose as we are given a jolt of liveliness intended to shake us out of our dreary, lifeless routines. Uranus is the planet of rebellion, striving to free us of whatever shackles we feel are binding us. Our samskaras (inherent tendencies) will be very much in evidence now and we will be faced with the choice of riding this big wave of electric and transformative energy, or trying to ignore it (not recommended). The close proximity of Mars (five degrees away) may make us headstrong and impulsive, striking out against resistance and authority figures in ways that invite conflict.

While today is technically not a Moon Day, it does seem like a shit-storm doesn't it?

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Running is helping my Ashtanga backbends?!

Woah, woah, woooaahh, something crazy happened this morning.

I woke up, had a coffee, and was about to start my Ashtanga home practice when I decided that my brain was way too BUSY and I needed to exhaust it so I could concentrate.

So I got my gear on and ran.

I hit the hills as hard as I could, and ran my heart out. 

My stats:

I came home and rolled out my yoga mat.

Instead of the classic series of standing poses (uttanasana, trikonasana, pari trik, parsvo, etc. etc.) I did a strong standing posture sequence on Yogaglo. Forty-five minutes later, I turned off the computer and settled down for some seated postures. 

By this time, I was pretty tired. My rambling brain had finally shut up.

I did Janushirsasana variations, visited Marichiyasana and its friends, trembled my way through Navasana, Bhujapidasana, Kurmasana, and then back bends. 

I stood up and dropped back. And stood up.

And did it again, and again. 

And it was surprisingly easy. 

Harnessing the power in the quads, the forward pull of the pelvis, the "Stand Up!" feeling--all of that was EASY. I believe the hill running beforehand fired up those fast-twitch muscles in my quads that give that really strong, abrupt pull. You don't get powerful movements like that from the slow-twitch, oxidative muscles that is built by mid to long distance runs, or long holds in Warrior 2.

For most of last year, running and Ashtanga were enemies fighting for control of my body. 

I feel like finally, today, I got them to be friends!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

A Day at Manly Beach!


Steven and I went here:

It was a beautiful, hot Saturday in Sydney, so we got on a ferry and 30 minutes later, we arrived.

Without delay, I headed straight over to this little tent and hired myself a board. An hour for $15 to do what I love possibly most in the world? Hell yah!

It's been almost 3 years since I've been on a board! I haven't lost the skill of navigating over white water or the pop up, but I've lost a LOT of strength. If the waves were bigger today, I think I would have been in big trouble.

This totally brought me back to my days in Taiwan, where I was skimboarding and wave riding with my friends every weekend or more. I can't wait to go back and visit later this year!

For those of you who don't know, and might care to learn, it was surfing that got me into yoga. It opened me up to the possibility that yoga might be something I would be interested in. After my first yoga class, I realized that surfing and yoga are one and the same. The physical challenges might draw you in at first, but it won't keep you there for 3 hour sessions every weekend for 3 years.

It was refreshing to come back to where it all started.

I wish I could surf every day of my life. Forever.<3

After my super quickie surf, Steven and I walked over to one of the quieter beaches near the main strip and rented a kayak.

I did all the work while he took pictures and pointed to where he wanted to go.

Nah, that's not true, but my arms are going to be sooo sore tomorrow!

Happy weekend everyone! Namaste!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

A great running bra: Adidas!

Who's ready to run? I am!

Sorry for the horrible "peeing-on-the-curb" and weirdo smile. Why must run poses always be so awkward?

So I found a great running bra!

As you can tell, it's from Adidas, it's salmon-y pink. It's simple and effective.

What I like best is the back:

The clasp-back on a sports bra may be the smartest thing I've never thought of.

It means you don't have to dislocate a shoulder in order to get out of it, and it fits nice and snug around the ribcage.

This bra gives lots of support, but feels like you're hardly wearing anything.

Best of all, it was only $45 AUS!

Considering lululemon stuff is in the 60-70 price range, a $45 sports bra is like hitting the jackpot (at least in my opinion). I may have to go back and pick up another training/yoga bra.

My stats today:

No knee pain yet! I'm liking my distances so far, even though the hills leave me gasping every time.

Now I'm off to plant myself in front of the TV and hope for my favourite show: The Biggest Loser; The Next Generation, Australian version. It's SO GOOD!

Have a wonderful Thursday!

Monday, 18 March 2013

Why can't I have bionic knees?

Last Friday night, I inhaled these two beauties from The Cupcake Bakery:

That's Peppermint Chocolate and some sort of delicious Chocolate Explosion that cost 0.80 more than normal cupcakes, but was worth every last drop.

I've been gaining a few pounds these days as a result of my sugar addiction, so I've made it a goal for myself to cut back.

I went for a run Saturday morning while Steven got to hog the bed for once (apparently I sleep in strange kicking yoga poses. But without any proof, I don't buy it).

Balls Head Reserve is quickly becoming my favourite part of my runs.

Sydney is absolutely beautiful in the morning!

By the time I got home, I literally collapsed into a heap on the ground. The last hills of the run were killer.

The picture really doesn't do this hill justice, because it is 45 degrees straight up. It levels off into a gentle little incline the rest of the way, which just adds to the burn.

My details:

Elevation kills me.

A few hours after the run, my right knee started feeling really sore.

Steven and I grabbed some lunch, walked around a bit, and my knee just kept hurting.

Until I plugged in my Garmin, I didn't really realize why:

That puny little 3.4 mile run had been my longest run since having my Garmin, which means my longest run in at least 3 months.

I've been steadily increasing my weekly mileage, but I guess 3.4 miles was just too much, too fast.

I'll have to make it a conscious effort to run slower, and run less. Alas. The life of a runner with a meniscus tear.

Saturday night was a big one for Steven and I. We went to the Sydney FC game against the Melbourne Wanderers. I am now a huge fan of soccer, even if it means random sweaty males falling all over the place and beer rain.

"Jump up! Jump up! Jump up! In the cove!" the chant went.

"Jump up! Jump up! Jump up! Feed a goat!" I heard.

Maybe I have a secret desire for a pet goat.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Chatswood Library, where books are free!

Lately, I've been spending a lot of time in Chatswood in North Sydney. 

It's where one of my main yoga studios is, and it's really accessible by train from our house. 

The Chatswood Library is massive and absolutely gorgeous. It sits below the civic centre which is also connected to the performing arts centre. There is green space out front, a wide-screened TV (which plays free movies sometimes!), and restaurants and shops just down a flight of steps.

Inside, there are nearly floor-to-ceiling windows. The library goes around the central reflection pool with steel structures of "art" not captured here in the photo.

I signed up for a library card and had it sent over to my house.

I went back for my first library book today. I think I'm going to be at the library a lot. It's been far too long since I've read books all day long, so I can't wait! (Yes, I'm a nerd.)

I also picked these up from a neighbourhood grocer's a few days ago: kiwiberries! 

I forgot about them until today.

They are literally like tiny little kiwis, but you can eat the skin. They're hairless, sweet, tender, and friendly and kind. I want them to be my friends forever. 

At Chatswoods, I discovered one of my favourite fast food restaurants from now on. 

It's like Chipotle, but Australian.

They're called Salsas, and they have this great rice bowl. It's a bed of spicy rice, black beans, zucchini, broccoli and onion, salsa, and cheese. I got them to add a wad of delicious guacamole. 

I think this is something I can legitimately re-create at home, so stay tuned for deliciousness!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The blackest, bloodiest blister ever

I'm on a hurt-myself-while-running kick lately.

I'd previously subjected you to the ugly pavement burns I got from my fall last Wednesday. 

I won't do that to you now.

All you need to know is, I was ready to conquer the hills yesterday morning, like I conquered the laundry. 

I already had a massive blister on my left big toe due to all the walking this weekend around Sydney. 

So halfway through Mile 2, I noticed that the blister started hurting.  

I got home, peeled off the Vibrams, and my toe was BLACK. 

It's so gross I had to put a Band Aid over it so it wouldn't freak out my yoga classes yesterday afternoon. 

Luckily, my black toe is not for naught! I am so proud of my stats:

That's 4.6 km in 32 minutes, and considering the monster hills I climbed, I'm pretty damn proud! 

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Just a quick Ashtanga post

The Confluence Countdown blog has posted several really good links that I want to repost here.

On stiffness and food, which I've noticed before in my own hamstrings, The Yoga Workshop says:

"Diet can definitely impact stiffness. There are no hard and fast rules relating particular foods to stiffness for everyone, so when you notice you’re stiff, it’s a good practice to review what you’ve eaten in the previous 24-48 hours. You might see patterns emerging. Some people find wheat (or other grains) make their joints feel inflamed. Others swear by a piece of toast before practicing. Alcohol consumption is generally not a great yogic practice anyway, but many people find it makes their body stiff and/or sluggish for practice. Cheese–a whole pizza for example or even less–can also produce a stiff, sluggish body. It really depends on you though, so the best way to figure it out is slowly and observantly." 
(The bold in the text is my doing)

Doritos, chocolate cake, salty, deep-fried mushrooms I blame you (but I also like you a lot, so please don't take it personally).

On the dynamic nature of the practice, on the purpose of asana (focus the mind), on history and tradition, Kate O'Donnell says:

"For me, what followed was a dance between practice and the rest of life for a good 3 years. The energies unleashed, yes unleashed, by that series required a whole new level of commitment and focus: food, drink, right speech, rest- all the time, not just in practice. I fell down and got back up so many times...
It is possible that Guruji was just pulling it out in a sequence for that student, at that time. The codification of anything dynamic always makes for trouble doesn’t it. I am so thankful for my crazy days with Nancy, because I was plucked off a rigid yoga path and stirred in the pot. Yoga is crazy. Yoga is fun. Yoga thwarts the mind. Now I can never see it as a static thing. Thank goodness."

The "pulling out a sequence for a student" is what really gets me (again, the bold text is my doing). Ultimately, does it matter which asanas, the "correct" order of asana, the precise number of vinyasas, even the breath count---do these things really matter? The fact is, some sort of organization exists for every given student. Perhaps "a sequence", not "which sequence", is most important in the real work of concentration, of focus, of clarity.

It is the practice of concentration, focus and clarity that brings me here in the mornings. Each day, I discover that there is more to Ashtanga than meets the eye.

Happy Moon Day everyone!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

My Day, in Instagram photos

A beautiful, sunny day in Sydney.

We got off the train at Milson's Point and saw beautiful views of the opera house, and Luna Park.

Had a coffee and smoothie break in a cafe in the nearby Kirribilli suburb. 

Took the train to North Sydney Station, and wandered the streets.

When I saw this awesome fern, I had to take a picture.

Then, we journeyed up to Chatswood, and stopped here in the Garden of Remembrance to enjoy the roses.

Later, we went back to the city for ramen at my new favourite place to eat.

Now, our feet are tired, our bellies are full, so it is time to curl up in front of the lap tops and watch some Big Brother Canada.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Pepper burns, milk hands, run scars

Last night was one of the more eventful nights in our humble household in North Sydney.

It started off really well.

I had a good day at work. I found some beautiful mushrooms at the local grocer's near work, and I came home to make this beautiful, healthful and delicious meal:

A giant mushroom cap was our "burger". Steven and I split the burger bun, because we're not so much into the carbs, and we topped it with cheese, thinly sliced red onions, lettuce, and avocados.

I made green bean fries on the side.

I also decided to make that beautiful red tomato salsa, bottom right. We had fresh baby tomatoes, so I wanted to do them in a way that brought out their sweetness.

Just for kicks, I cut up a little chili pepper to add some heat.

Halfway through dinner, my left hand is tingling and I don't know why. I do the dishes, return to the table, and before I know it, I've got full out burning in my left hand.

It felt like I was being pierced with flaming hot machetes, and that my hand would at any moment fall off.

Google told me to try a bunch of things: ketchup, milk, lime, hand lotion, soap.

Milk hands worked for a bit, but the burning came back.

I think I really sealed my fate by washing my hands in warm water after making dinner. The water probably opened my pores, let in all those capsacin devils, and they drilled deep down in the layers of my epidermis like microscopic hedge-hogs from hell.

Eventually, I got too tired to try any more goop on my poor macerated hand and fell asleep.

About 3 AM, I woke to no pain, and thought, "Huh. Guess it went away." And went back to sleep.

The next morning was hard.

Running low on sleep, my eyes burning from contact with my hands and my contact lenses, I had zero focus and barely got through the sun salutations that start off every Ashtanga practice.

Eventually, I crawled back into bed and slept in.

It was just one of those days.

Luckily, today is a Wednesday. That means Bay Run. I was looking forward to this all day long.

This is how we get pumped up for 7K of awesomeness: Harlem shake (or epileptic fit)?

I put in a really decent run, especially with all the hills I've been training on in my 'hood.

Plus, we had this guy join our group today. Great energy, but the collapsing half-way is something he really needs to work on with his coach.

Incidentally, this also happened:

My second official running war wound!! (My first is a sports bra chafe that you don't need to see or know about.)

I tripped on a dark patch of pavement and fell!


32:24 min
3.18 miles
10:11 min/mile